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Eugène Delacroix: Reflections – Tasso in the Madhouse

6 September to 14 December 2008

The third ‘dossier' exhibition in the series initiated at the Oskar Reinhart Collection ‘Am Römerholz' in 2005 consisted of a small but exquisite display of work by the French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). The last show to be mounted before the museum closed on 15 December 2008 for the second phase of refurbishment (which lasted until mid-2010), its sharp intellectual focus and rich artistic rewards augured well for the institution's future.

The exhibition focused on Tasso in the Madhouse of 1839, a major treasure among the museums's extensive Delacroix holdings. For the first time in over 140 years the painting was displayed together with an earlier version of the subject by the artist, dating from 1824 and now in a private collection. Comparison of the two paintings, and their juxtaposition with a further twenty-six works by Delacroix, opened up new perspectives on a painting of key historical importance. In addition, the wide range of subjects represented in the exhibition shed light on the self-image of this great artist on the threshhold of modern art. Significantly, Delacroix was less interested in Tasso's writings than in his tragic fate, which soon became the subject of legend. In the person of this unrecognised genius, and in the other major literary and artistic figures depicted in the small and medium-sized works shown in the exhibition, he saw a reflection of himself and his struggle to find a place in the society that had emerged in France from the sequence of Enlightenment, Revolution and Restoration. 

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition was published by Hirmer Verlag, Munich, in a German and an English edition.


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